On Missing Work

There are times when I really, really miss my work.

The last week or so has been very full. Scouting events, homework projects, and a birthday party have all conspired to eat up most of my free time. As if the usual busy life weren’t enough, Mr. P. and I are also preparing to undertake some fairly significant home improvement projects. Of course, there are also the innumerable daily duties and tasks around here as well–laundry, dinner, taxi duty, etc.

It’s enough to make me wish I could dive back into the work world I used to enjoy. Yes, work unbalanced my life, and yes, it was frustrating to be forced to let projects and duties slide when I needed to focus on work, but . . .

At least I had work. At least I had something more than just this.

I try really hard not to cast aspersions on the choices moms make about how to take care of their careers, kids, husbands, and homes. I know that whatever choices we make, raising kids is just hard, whether you have one or a dozen. But I have to say–sometimes, I have a really hard time with this choice I’ve made to be here, at home, devoted to home and hearth.

Please do not think that I don’t love my children or my husband. I do, and that’s part of why this is so tough, I think. Obviously, I love them more than I loved what I used to do–that’s why I chose this route. But I really, really, really loved what I used to do. There were aspects of it that I could have lived without, and the frustration of constantly choosing between kids and work was unbearable, but at least there I had something that was my thing–something I was reasonably good at, something that brought more immediate rewards.

Parenting? Um . . .

If I’m lucky, I might see some rewards in twenty years or so. I’m not holding out much hope before that.

My children are wonderful. I hear compliments about them from people outside my family on a fairly regular basis, and all of them are bright, talented, in good health, and reasonably well-behaved. But they’re children. While they’re still here, largely under my control, it’s hard to see how they might turn out in ten, fifteen, twenty years. Parenting is not the kind of thing one can undertake expecting instant gratification.

I question why I’m here. I question if I’m doing anything right. I feel guilty for no longer contributing to the household income. And sometimes–yes, if I’m to be completely honest–sometimes I pine desperately for that thing that used to be mine, that thing I knew I was reasonably good at.

The work I used to do is something I can do as a hobby, but I fear that route. I know that I tend toward obsessiveness, and I fear that, like Alice, if I follow the white rabbit of what I used to do, I’ll tumble right back down the rabbit hole and be of no use once again. Yet I cannot help wondering–why would I have this talent if I were not meant to use it? Why can I not find a way to use it while keeping myself sane and my family healthy?

What am I missing, God? Why did you bother to give me a gift or talent that I have no possible means of using in this role as a mother? And if you were to bless me with the opportunity to shepherd these beautiful little humans into adulthood, why did you not make me just a little bit better at it? Make me desire it just a little more? Have I merely fallen prey to the cultural lie that “you can have it all”?

For the last six months, I have been walking by faith. I have focused on obedience, on fulfilling my obligations to my family. I have said aloud, “the kids will grow up, and then I can do what I love again” while simultaneously believing that by the time the kids are gone, I will have no possible chance of success at my career. I have hoped that my reward for sacrificing my career would be productive, well-adjusted adults who leave the nest, but I have absolutely no assurance of that. And I fear–desperately, deeply–that I will be left with an empty nest and empty days and empty spirit.

I would be lying if I said I was not terrified.

More prayer is needed . . .

Till next we meet . . .

J M

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